‘News’ the Secular Religion?

The human mind’s ability to reflect is an astounding one. The web itself has ironically no lack of articles and essays that speak out against our dependence on its overflow of information. Here’s another essay from the BBC lamenting how our exposure to voluminous information and unquenchable thirst to keep updated with current affairs is actually resulting in us ‘knowing less’, in

… (losing) our capacity to fix our minds steadily on anything. To sit still and think without succumbing to an anxious reach for a machine has become almost impossible.

The author claims that this phenomena is akin to how

The news occupies in the secular sphere much the same position of authority that the liturgical calendar has in the religious one. Its main dispatches track the canonical hours with uncanny precision. Matins have here been transubstantiated into the breakfast bulletin and Vespers into the evening report.

In other words, keeping updated has become something of a secular religious rite itself. The key difference is that while religious texts often call upon us to go back and reflect on them, the news just keeps feeding us. What is needed then, according to the author, is that we ‘fast’ from this incessant swallowing of information and actually go back to medita…I mean enjoy, some of our old favorites (secular or religious).

If we lament our book-swamped age, it is because we sense that it is not by reading more, but by deepening and refreshing our understanding of a few volumes that we best develop our intelligence and our sensitivity.

Do you agree with his assessment that keeping updated or ‘connected’ to information flow is a modern religion? Why?

Do you share his lament that we do not take time to ponder over what we have read these days?

Are people in Singapore or your society facing a similar issue?

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2 thoughts on “‘News’ the Secular Religion?

  1. I would think that by keeping updated with information or news, is not exactly a ‘modern religion’, because a religion is a kind of ‘system’ whereby one has to act on what he or she thinks strongly believs in. And, in today’s world, we can read up many types of books and be very knowledgeable. But that does not mean we are able to apply it, as we do not digest the information properly. I believe that it is quite true that not many people are really taking the time to digest whatever they have read. This is a fast-paced society, and globalisation takes place everywhere. Thus, to keep with the times, ‘it is hard to stay put’ as what the author claimed, to really ponder over what we have read. I do believe Singaporeans face the same issue. Recently, I read up this chinese poem by one of Singapore poets. The poem was relating to the news of the Vietnam war in the 1970s, and there were lots of refugees. Yet, when the people of the world read up this article, they just felt pity and sympathy for them. However, no one really cared to lay a helping hand to these people. It was as though the news was just a passing thought for feeling melancholic about the world. So, I can agree at some points to what the author was saying about how people nowadays take what they had read as ‘void’ to them. They are busy catching up with whatever they have missed and forgot about what’s really important.

  2. Whoa, I believe calling ‘keeping updated with news’ is a new religion is just ridiculous. I mean religion is so much more complicated than just reading those news feeds, googling, and etc.

    But yes, I do share the same opinion with the writer, where he laments about ‘we do not take time to ponder about the news’.

    Look at today. Facebook, Twitter, Google, iPad, iPod, internet, etc… are becoming the new and fast resources of news. Instead of flipping the newspapers and magazines, we can easily log on to the internet and look at the current headlines. We will know what are the headlines and all about, but do we necessarily know what happened behind all these news?

    To put it simply, reading those headlines in internet quickly will not help you to think critically and effectively. Yes, you will get the facts and news quick. But there is no way you will get the clear perspectives by just reading those. There is no reliable source in the internet, anyway.

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